Upcoming and Planned Projects

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Patti Pocket Skirt

This is the Patti Pocket Skirt from Amy Nicole Studios. A month or so back I was lucky enough to get offered to pattern test a new skirt. And not just any skirt pattern, but one with pockets, which are too few and far between in women's patterns.

The fabric is from My Hung in Hurstville. It's a polyester rayon blend which I've been tempted by for a few years, but never previously had a pattern appropriate for the fabric. The pleats in this pattern needed a fabric that could hold both structure and softness. I couldn't find anything in my stash that seemed quite right, so went looking. Wandering through My Hung this fabric finally stood out as suited to a specific patter.

I made the size 0, view A, the above the knee length. The pattern is designed for petite sizes of 5'4" and shorter. I am 5'6", but long-waisted, so my legs are closer to a slightly more petite height. As such I did not make any changes to the pattern in my construction, apart from using French seams to prevent fraying. I also don't have an invisible zipper foot so had to do a standard zipper insertion. I even followed Amy's instructions to use very few or no pins which was honestly pretty daunting, but actually turned out well.

I started sewing this up a bit later than planned, so I used the second tester version of the pattern and the third tester version of the instrutions. The version I sewed up is I think identical to the final version for this length, and I used the final version of the instructions.

The skirt has six panels as well as pockets. The panels allow for blocking and print mixing. I did consider finding a fabric that would allow proper blocking, but in the end I liked this fabric too much. There is some very subtle blocking as I cut the side pieces on the alternate stripes - the blue and gold match all the way around, but the purple and peach alternate.

Overall I was very happy with this pattern. It was quite straightforward to make, with instructions both clearly written and with clear diagrams. The pockets on this skirt are slightly looser than the body of the skirt, which at first meant I thought I had cut the pieces unevenly. But the instructions do say this is intended, and it does mean there is room to properly use the pockets. The only small thing to note about it is that you need to take care when pressing the pleats and pockets to avoid uneven creases.

I really like this pattern. The pockets are a good size, the pleats are lovely and the length is great. The sizing worked perfectly on me, but for anyone taller or with longer legs it would probably be necessary to lengthen the shorter version A length. I am thinking about making the version B midi length, or possibly just a different version of this short length. It's a lovely skirt, and I definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Muriel's Chicken Frill Sundress

I'd originally planned this dress as part of Mena of Make This Look's Summer of the Pinafore (northern hemisphere summer) challenge on Instagram. I posted a picture of it almost finished (the facings hadn't been stitched down) and had planned to put it on the blog within a week of that. I finished this dress at the beginning of the month, but it's taken me four weeks to put it up on the blog. I took some photos a couple of weeks ago but when I downloaded them onto my computer the were blurry and the light was terrible. So I had to find a bit of time to do a take 2 and start again. And apparently I like looking to my right in photos.

The fabric is one I picked up at a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap about 18 months ago, which was the first spoolettes event I went to and I think the first fabric swap. I loved the quirky retro oval-shaped chickens on it, so I had to pick it up. The sewing pattern has the name Muriel written on the envelope, hence the name for the dress. I found the pattern at a vintage fair about 10 years ago, and this is the second time I've used it.

The pattern is a 1948 McCall pattern, number 7904. The original pattern actually has two lines of gathered ruffles, at the princess seam which I kept but shortened slightly, and around the armscye. I decided to leave that ruffle off because it would have looked a bit too costumey. I also did in seam pockets instead of the giant patch pockets of the pattern. The skirt is shortened from a couple of inches below the knee to just above to make it a bit more modern and wearable.

Because I have used the pattern before it was fairly easy to sew up. I even managed to pattern match the chickens down the front of the dress. However when I made it before I'd made the second version, which has short puffy sleeves rather than ruffles. I did a bit of playing around with exactly how I wanted the shoulder ruffle to be. The instructions were to simply gather the ruffle, but I wasn't sure it would look right, especially given the envelope illustration shows them sticking up to chin height which would probably look ridiculous. In the end I decided to freehand pleat them, so they don't stick up high but they aren't sharply pressed either. They're fun, rather than obnoxious.

This make is also vintage, so is part of my vintage pledge for the year, which had been to create a capsule wardrobe. Whether it ends up being an actual capsule wardrobe or I just make a number of different types of vintage clothing pieces remains to be seen. And the fabric ended up being such a large piece that I was able to take the 1 metre remnant to the latest Spoolettes fabric swap on Sunday for it to be used by another Sydney sewist!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Teal Merino Jumper

Another jumper to round out the winter wear. This jumper was also in my last post with my pais-liberty skirt, but here it is on its own. This is a very simple jumper in a pattern I've used many times for various tops because it's a simple and versatile shape that works as everything from a t-shirt to a jumper.

The merino is from The Fabric Store. It's a teal colour with a darker greenish blue pattern that looks a bit like it belongs on tiles. It's a heavier merino at 240gsm, and is more of a Hacci knit than a jersey. It's very soft and light but still warm. And fortunately it isn't itchy, which wool can often be.

The pattern is the epaullette sleeve top from Japanese sewing book She Has A Mannish Style, but I've narrowed the sleeves and narrowed and lengthened the body. Because I have the Japanese version of the book rather than the English translation I have to follow the pictures as my only instructions. As is typical with Japanese patterns the seam allowances aren't included. Given I wanted to narrow and lengthen the pattern that mostly didn't matter, except that I forgot to add seam allowance at the neckline so it's a littly wider than ideal.

I used the selvedge of the fabric for the sleeve cuffs so I could leave them unfinished. Both the hem and neckline are hand finished in order to keep the jumper looking neat. I always prefer this look, and it was especially good on the hem here because I had cut it slightly unevenly, which would have been highlighted by visible stitching.

The jumper is photographed here on a week away down the south coast and featuring the roots and base of the trunk of the largest Moreton Bay Fig I've ever seen. This jumper is one that can be casual with jeans like I'm wearing here or worn to work with a more professional skirt or pants.

I had plans for more a little more cool weather clothes after this jumper, but Sydney seems to have flicked the switch straight from winter to summer so I'm not sure how much need I'll have for long sleeves now. I will wear it when I can though, because it's very comfortable and soft.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Pais-Liberty Skirt

I've been a bit slack on posting for a while, and very slack on my Vintage Pledge for this year but with this post I'm starting to rectify that with this colourful paisley print skirt.

This skirt is a very simple and classic A-line. The pattern is Simplicity 8363 from 1969. I made version 1, without the pockets or suspenders. It's a teen sized pattern which are sized a bit differently (they generally have a wider waist and narrower bust) but I didn't have to make any adjustments. Given the skirt is A-line, it simply needed to fit my waist and the shape would be fine on the hips.

This was a very straightforward sew. I've made this skirt before, version 4 in a fabric almost identical to the envelope. This time it's the plainest version of the skirt possible. I've done French seams again, so everything is neat and tidy inside. The waist facing was hand sewn for neatness, but the hem is machine done. I don't tend to like visible stitching, but the fabric is so busy that the stitching doesn't stand out.

The fabric is from The Fabric Store. It's Liberty Darlington Twill. I haven't sewn with Liberty much because it is pricey and I don't want to mess it up, but it is so lovely to sew. It cuts easily and evenly and glides through the machine, and the colours are so wonderfully vibrant. The fabric also simply feels great, unlike some others, especially cheap polyester. I have a few more pieces of Liberty in my stash, so maybe I will be motivated to pull them out and use them.

The jumper I'm wearing with this skirt is another new make, which should be up very soon too. And I have a few more things finished, partly made or ready to go, so hopefully this blog will become a bit more active - at least for a while.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Liberty Tie-back Trapeze Top

Before winter leaves Sydney I'm trying to get a little more cool weather sewing done. This jumper is the first, bit of that, I'll see how many more I get done before the weather warms up.

The fabric is Liberty loopback 'Jody' in green, bought at The Fabric Store. It's a loopback rather than a fleece, so it's warm but not hot so I can wear it more of the year. There's a growing amount of Liberty fabric at The Fabric Store and it's well priced (still expensive, but cheaper than other places) so I'm glad that the Surry Hills store is just a bit too far from the office for me to get there and back during my lunch hour, and their opening hours mean I can't get there after work either. Otherwise I'd visit too often and spend too much.

The pattern is from the Japanese sewing book, Couturier Sewing Class. When I was flipping through the book in Kinokuniya this jumper was the pattern that stood out to me and was the reason I bought the book. The top has a raglan sleeve, a tie back and shoulder darts to give it a bit more structure. The pattern is one of two versions in the book, there is also a dress length version.

The fabric is a knit, but is a stable knit so it doesn't have a lot of stretch. That makes it work really well with the slightly structured nature of this jumper, expecially because it allows the trapeze shape to keep its shape. It also means the bow for the tie back stays upright and in place. So overall, this type of fabric is just right for the pattern, and the feminine floral print is a nice contrast with the structured shape.

As is common with Japanese pattern books the sizing needs some adjustments. This pattern book is designed for a slightly older sewist than the stylish dress books, with the sizing starting slightly larger, covering small to extra large. However the heights are shorter for this book, under 160cm for the small and medium, and up to 165 for the large and extra large. The small's bust, waist and hip measurements were right for me, but I'm taller than the tallest height. Given the pattern also has a dress option, I traced out the extra large dress length and simply cut the top further down than the pattern suggested.

The top was very easy to cut out and to sew, and extremely quick to put together. It's probably a good pattern to make if you've been feeling uninspired and want something good that's fast to restart your creative juices. It's also extremely wearable. I've already worn it twice, both with jeans and with a skirt, so it's versatile which makes it a good wardrobe staple. I definitely recommend this pattern and this sewing book as one to look out for.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Cosy Wool Poncho Jumper

This is a very cosy lazy top. It's from the December 2016 issue of Burdastyle magazine and is described as an oversized pullover. The pattern is somewhere between a poncho and a jumper or even a snuggie, but with an elasticated waist.

the fanric is a $12 a metre bright cream hacci knit (I believe that's what it's called, it looks like a knitted jumper) from My Hung in Hurstville and is suprisingly warm for its weight. It's 70% wool and 30% poly, and is warm but soft to the touch and not itchy like wool can sometimes be. It drapes well, but still has a bit of body.

This pattern uses a lot of fabric. There are only three pieces - two front and one back - but each piece is wide, with a very long funnel neck. The pieces are too wide to be able to lay side by side on folded fabric, so I had to buy 2 metres of fabric to fit the pieces on. Unfortunately that means there is a reasonable amount of fabric wastage, with so big but awkwardly shaped scraps.

In the magazine there were two different versions of this pattern: this short elastic waist version, and a longer tunic-style version which has a curved high-low hem. I decided to cut out the longer version out, figuring I could always shorten it if it didn't lookright long. While it was very cosy longer, it didn't look right in this fabric, especially with the large neck.  So I folded the top flat along the centre front seam and cut the hem level.

The pattern sews together very easily. It is pretty straightforward, with the centre, shoulder and side seams all just straight lines. The neck is folded under and then stitched which I  initially tried to do with a machine zigzag stitch, but it got caught into the bobbin thread. So instead it is hand stitched in place which took longer, but isn't visible. For the waistband I decided to sew the elastic in directly to the waistband rather than inserting it into the already sewn hem. It requires a bit more care, but ends up cleaner and neater. I made the sleeve openings about 15cm wide, so the top rises slightly if I lift my arms up, but the volume of the top means it largely stays in place.

This top is wonderfully comfortable, and is definitely going to get a lot of wear for many years. It's simple and a lazy wear but still looks put together, and although light, it's also warm. I think it's going to be a great addition to my winter wardrobe.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Merino Jersey Dress

The pattern is from the burdastyle magazine of June last year. It is pattern 101 C, jersey mini dress. Being a northern hemisphere magazine the dress is meant to be a summer dress, but it's winter down here so my version is a cool weather version.

The fabric is a midweight merino from The Fabric Store. The fabric store has an amazing range of New Zealand merino, but I've been quite daunted about using merino because it's high quality and pretty expensive so I didn't want to ruin it. But the colours of this fabric were just too much to resist. The various blues are very vibrant and stood out from the rest in the store, so it came home with me.

In the end, the merino was extremely easy to sew with. It was very easy to cut and glided through my machine. There are only four pieces to it, two of the bodice/sleeves and two of the skirt/body. I lengthened both the sleeves and the skirt to make it a bit more cold weather appropriate. I also cut the front neckline just slightly more scooped so that I can identify the front from the back. I didn't want to make it too long because that might be too heavy and frumpy, but I think the length I chose works about right.

The dress is very comfortable to wear. It's a bit secret pyjamas, feeling much lazier and cosier than it looks. It's very easy to just throw on and wear at home, but a nice enough fabric and good enough cut that it's more than appropriate to wear out and about.

 I'm very happy with this dress. And I don't think I'll be so scared of using merino again, it really was a pleasure to use and it's such a nice fabric to wear.